Remarks on the Anonymous Collective Sponsorships in Post-Byzantine Epirus (Greece): The Case of an Eighteenth-Century Painting Workshop

15 December 2021

Author Katerina Kontopanagou, Ionian University of Corfu
Author Vasiliki Koutsou, University of Ioannina
Author Foteini Tsakmaki, University of Ioannina

Co-operative patronage is based on the joint effort of individuals, lay or clerical, couples, families, colleagues, ecclesiastical and military authorities, or fellow citizens.  Through the donor inscriptions are revealed the different categories of such co-operative patronage in Byzantine and Post-Byzantine society. In the Greek-speaking Post-Byzantine world, such types of anonymous groups of donors and benefactors most often came from a community as a whole, or certain inhabitants of a region, while collective donations by groups of monks were also widespread. The present paper examines the practice of anonymous collective sponsorships in Post-Byzantine Epirus, presenting the surviving monuments from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century and, in detail, the cases of anonymous collective sponsorships in a specific painting workshop of the eighteenth century, that of the so-called Kapesovite painters.

In Post-Byzantine period the special privileges from the Ottomans and the development of trade, contributed to the Epirus’s cultural development. The tectonic transformations in the residential network of Epirus began in the late sixteenth century and increased after the seventeenth century. During the eighteenth century, the flourishing of Post-Byzantine art is a fact, indicating the gradual rise to prevalence of the parishes and the communities over the monastic establishments and individual donors. The financial and commercial privileges, especially after the treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca (1774), contributed decisively to religious monuments’ construction or renovation. The financial circumstances and the social cohesion of the Orthodox Christians in Epirus favored the increase of anonymous collective sponsorship in the eighteenth century. The monuments of that period evidence a significant amount of co-operative patronage, in which “anonymity” starred among the donors. The anonymous collective sponsorships indicates the community’s cohesion and the benefactor’s desire to create a legacy for future generations.

Collective sponsorships, co-operative patronage, Post-Byzantine period, anonymous donors, Epirus, Kapesovite painters

[1] Modern-day Epirus is a prefecture of western Greece located north of the Peloponnese that borders Albania and is defined geographically by the Pindus mountain range, the Ionian Sea and the Ambracian Gulf. Historically, the region was divided into Epirus Vetus and Epirus Nova. During the Middle Byzantine period, this region was home to the theme (province) of Nikopolis or Nikopolis and Kephallenia. It consisted of the aforementioned regions and the Ionian islands of Kephallenia, Lefkas and Corfu. The largest city on the Greek side of the border is Ioannina, and Gjirokastër is its modern Albanian counterpart. Peter Soustal and Johannes Koder, Tabula Imperii Byzantini (Nikopolis und Kephallenia), III (Vienne, 1981); Panagiotis Aravantinos, Χρονογραφία της Ηπείρου [Chronography of Epirus], Vol. B (Athens: S. K. Vlastos 1856), 60-62; Spyros Ploumidis, “Nuances of Irredentism: The Epirote Society of Athens (1906-1912),” The Historical Review 8 (2011): 149-177; Christos Stavrakos, “Donors, Patrons and Benefactors in Medieval Epirus Between the Great Empires. A Society in Change or Continuity?,” in Maria Alessia Rossi and Alice Isabella Sullivan, eds., Eclecticism in Late Medieval Visual Culture at the Crossroads of Latin, Greek and Slavic Traditions, vol. 6 (Berlin - Boston: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2022), 291.

[2] The migration of the Epirotes is remarkable during the Post-Byzantine era. Helen Antoniade-Bibikou, “Ερειπωμένα χωριά στήν Ελλάδα. Ένας προσωρινός άπολογισμός [Ruined Villages in Greece. A Provisional Report],” in Spyros Asdrachas, ed., H οικονομική δομή των βαλκανικών χωρών στα χρόνια της Οθωμανικής κυριαρχίας, ιε'-ιθ' αι. [The Economic Structure of the Balkan Countries During the Years of Ottoman Rule 15th-19th C.] (Athens: Melissa, 1979), 211-219. For the economic connection and the trade among Epirus and the now current area of Romania during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with further bibliography, see, Andronikos Falaggas, “Μορφές Ηπειρωτών στις Ρουμάνικες χώρες κατά τον Ύστερο Βαλκανικό Μεσαίωνα [Epirotes in the Romanian Countries During the Late Balkan Middle Ages],” Δωδώνη / Dodoni 33 (2004): 387-388.

[3] Donald M. Nicol, The Despotate of Epiros, 1267-1479: A Contribution to the History of Greece in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 197-203; Michalis Kokolakes, Το Ύστερο Γιαννιώτικο Πασαλίκι. Χώρος, διοίκηση και πληθυσμός στην Τουρκοκρατούμενη Ήπειρο (1820-1913) [The Late Gianniotiko Pasaliki. Space, Administration and Population in the Ottoman-Occupied Epirus (1820-1913)] (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation NHRF, 2003), 115-118.

[4] Manolis Chatzidakis,΄Ελληνες Ζωγράφοι μετά την Άλωση (1450-1830) [Greek Painters after the Fall of Constantinople (1450-1830)], Vol. 1 (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation NHRF, Section of Neohellenic Research SNR, 1987), 97, 109-112; Eugenia Drakopoulou, Αναλυτικοί Πίνακες των Ελλήνων Ζωγράφων και των έργων τους (1450-1850) [Detailed Catalogues of Greek Painters and Their Paintings (1450-1850)] (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation NHRF, Section of Neohellenic Research SNR, 2008), 142-145; Katerina Kontopanagou, “Κατά πάντα Απηρτίσθη: Some Comments on the Απάρτισις in Donor Inscriptions,” in Christos Stavrakos, ed., Inscriptions in the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine History and History of Art (Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz Verlag, 2016), 187-192.

[5] For the substantial change of the Post-Byzantine society and the economic circumstances in the sixteenth century, see Chatzidakis, ΄Ελληνες Ζωγράφοι, 86-87, 97, 109-112. In particular for the Epirus region, during the sixteenth century, the northern part of Epirus began to develop thanks to trade with Ragusa. Halil Inalcik and Donald Quataert, Οικονομική και κοινωνική ιστορία της Οθωμανικής αυτοκρατορίας [Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire], Vol. A (Athens: Alexandria, 2008), 295-300.

[6] Chatzidakis, ΄Ελληνες Ζωγράφοι, 100-104.

[7] Kokolakes, Γιαννιώτικο Πασαλίκι, 115-116.

[8] Dimitrios Konstantios, “Χορηγία και Τέχνη στην Ήπειρο, την Περίοδο της Ύστερης Τουρκοκρατίας [Sponsorship and Art in Epirus, the Period of the Late Ottoman Occupation],” DChAE 20 (1998): 409-416; Christos Stavrakos, “The Profile of Donors in Christian Monuments in Epirus,” in Stavrakos, ed., Inscriptions in the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine History, 41-52; Stavrakos, “Donors,” 291-313.

[9] For examples of byzantine collective sponsorship see the following: In Crete, the churches of the Archangel Michael (1321) in Doraki, Monofatsi and of St Paraskevi (1372/1373) in Kityro, Selinountas, were constructed with funding from the inhabitants of the village and inhabitants of the region of Kityro correspondingly. The Church of St Nicholas (1434/1435) in Maritsas, Rhodes, was also constructed through the collective sponsorship of the entire village. Sophia Kalopissi-Verti, “Collective Patterns of Patronage in the Late-Byzantine Village: The Evidence of Church Inscriptions,” in Jean-Michel Spieser and Élisabeth Yota, eds., Donation et donateurs dans le monde byzantine. Actes du colloque international de l’Université de Fribourg (13-15 mars 2008) [Réalités Byzantines 14] (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer editions, 2012), 132-134. In the Post-Byzantine period, monuments were erected or decorated through collective patterns regardless of the local political situation, Kalopissi-Verti, “Collective Patterns,” 135.

[10] Konstantios, “Χορηγία και Τέχνη στην Ήπειρο,” 410; Spyros Karydis, “Συλλογικές χορηγίες στην Κέρκυρα κατά την πρώιμη Λατινοκρατία. Επιγραφικά τεκμήρια” [Collective Sponsorships in Corfu During the Early Latin Occupation. Epigraphic Items], Byzantina Symmeikta 26 (2016): 164; Kalopissi-Verti, “Collective Patterns,” 128.

[11] Katerina Kontopanagou and Vasiliki Koutsou, “«ἀναλώμασιν τῶν εὐσεβῶν χριστιανῶν»: A Case of Collective Sponsorship During the 18th Century in Epirus,” in 40th Symposium on Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Archaeology and Art. Programme and Abstracts of Major Papers and Communications [Christian Archaeological Society] (Athens, 2021), 75-76, Stavrakos, “Donors,” 291-310.

[12] The inscription has been written in upper-case letters for reasons of expediency. For more detail on the inscription, Myrtali Acheimastou-Potamianou, “Βυζαντινά, Μεσαιωνικά και Νεώτερα μνημεία της Ηπείρου [Byzantine, Medieval and Later Monuments of Epirus],” AD 30 (1975): 224-225;  Eadem, “Άγιος Γεώργιος στην Κάτω Λαψίστα των Ιωαννίνων. Παρατηρήσεις στις τοιχογραφίες του έτους 1508 [Saint George in Kato Lapsista of Ioannina. Observations at the Frescoes of 1508],” in Vasilis Katsaros and Anastasia Tourta, eds., Αφιέρωμα στον Ακαδημαϊκό Παναγιώτη Λ. Βοκοτόπουλο [Tribute to Academic Panagiotes L. Vokotopoulos] (Athens:Kapon editions, 2015), 482; Eadem, Η μονή Φιλανθρωπινών και η πρώτη φάση της Μεταβυζαντινής Ζωγραφικής [Philantropinon Monastery and the First Phase of Post-Byzantine Painting] (Athens: Ministry of Culture, 1983), 30; Ioannis Chouliaras, “Τοιχογραφημένα μνημεία και ζωγράφοι του 15ουκαι 16ουαιώνα στην Ήπειρο και τη Νότια Αλβανία [Murals and Painters of the 15th and 16th Centuries in Epirus and Southern Albania],” Δωδώνη / Dodona 36-37 (2007-2008): 295-332; Idem, “Ένα άγνωστο συνεργείο ζωγράφων των αρχών του 16ουαιώνα στην Ήπειρο [An Unknown Group of Painters of the Early 16th Century in Epirus],” DChAE 32 (2011): 115-128; Stavros Gatsopoulos, “Ιερά Σταυροπηγιακή μονή Μολυβδοσκεπάστου [Holy Molivdoskepastos monastery],” Κόνιτσα 30-31 (1964): 1-18; Idem, “Ιερά Σταυροπηγιακή μονή Μολυβδοσκεπάστου,” Κόνιτσα, 32-34 (1965): 1-17; Idem, “Ιερά Σταυροπηγιακή μονή Μολυβδοσκεπάστου,” Κόνιτσα, 35-37 (1965): 5-20; Idem, “Η ιστορική Σταυροπηγιακή μονή Μολυβδοσκεπάστου [The Historical Molivdoskepastos monastery],” Epirotiki Estia 3 (1954): 153-155; Dionisios Zakynthenos, “Ανέκδοτον βυζαντινόν κτητορικόν εκ Βορείου Ηπείρου” [Anecdotal Byzantine Donorship from Northern Epirus], Epet. Byz. 14 (1938): 277-294.

[13] For the donors, Christos Stavrakos, “The Donors Inscriptions of Panagia Molybdoskepastos and Saint Paraskevi of Vikos in Epirus,” in Ivan Jordanov et al., ed., Proceedings of the International Symposium in Honor of Dr. Vasil Haralanov. Shumen, 13th-15th September 2007 (Shumen: 2008), 249-257; Stavrakos, “Donors,” 301-305.

[14] Dimitrios Kamaroulias, Τα μοναστήρια της Ηπείρου [The Monasteries in Epirus], Vol. A (Athens: Bastas-Plessas, 1996), 178-179. The legend has several variations.

[15] Gatsopoulos, “Η ιστορική Σταυροπηγιακή μονή,” 154; Kamaroulias, Τα μοναστήρια της Ηπείρου, 180. Remnants of a previous inscription and decoration are observable beneath the current inscription, and a third layer of frescoes likely lies underneath. The present inscription dates to the period of Andronikos ΙΙ Palaiologos, and thus indicates that the existing structure is the result of renovations.

[16] Panagiotis Aravandinos, Περιγραφή της Ηπείρου [Description of Epirus], Vol. 3 (Ioannina: Etairia Εpirotikon Meleton, 1984), 10; Gatsopoulos, “Σταυροπηγιακή μονή” (1964), 1-18; Idem, “Σταυροπηγιακή μονή” (1965), 1-17; Idem, “Σταυροπηγιακή μονή” (1965), 5-20; Idem, “Η Iστορική Σταυροπηγιακή μονή,” 153-155; Zakynthenos, “Ανέκδοτον,” 277-294; Kamaroulias, Τα μοναστήρια της Ηπείρου, 180; Varvara Papadopoulou, Τα Βυζαντινά μνημεία της Ηπείρου [Byzantine Monuments in Epirus] (Athens: Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development, 2002), 178; Varvara Papadopoulou and Argyro Karamperidi, Βυζαντινά και Μεταβυζαντινά Μνημεία Μολυβδοσκεπάστου [Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monuments in Molyvdoskepastos] (Athens: Politistikos Syllogos Molybdoskepastou, 2008), 13; Stavrakos, “Donors Inscriptions,” 8; Christos Stavrakos, The Sixteenth Century Donor Inscriptions in the Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin Theotokos Molybdoskepastos: The Legend of the Emperor Constantine IV as a Founder of Monasteries in Epirus (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013), 122 [henceforth abbreviated as Stavrakos, Molybdoskepastos]; Idem, “Donors,” 301-305.

[17] Kamaroulias, Τα μοναστήρια της Ηπείρου, 181.

[18] Stavrakos, Molybdoskepastos, 71-72; Idem, “Donors,” 301-305.

[19] Further information on this issue, Stavrakos, Molybdoskepastos, 179 ff.

[20] Aravandinos, Περιγραφή, 10; Gatsopoulos, “Σταυροπηγιακή μονή” (1964), 1-18; Idem, “Σταυροπηγιακή μονή” (1965), 1-17; Idem, “Σταυροπηγιακή μονή” (1965), 5-20; Idem, “Η Ιστορική Σταυροπηγιακή μονή” (1954), 153-155; Zakynthenos, “Ανέκδοτον,” 277-294; Kamaroulias, Τα μοναστήρια της Ηπείρου, 180; Papadopoulou, Τα Βυζαντινά μνημεία, 178; Papadopoulou and Karamperidi, Βυζαντινά και Μεταβυζαντινά Μνημεία, 13; Stavrakos, “Donors Inscriptions,” 8; Stavrakos, Molybdoskepastos, 122; Idem, “Donors,” 301-305.

[21] Theofan Popa, Mbishkrime të kishave në Shqiperi [Inscriptions of the Churches in Albania] (Tiranë: Akademia e Shkencave e Republikës së Shqipërisë, Instituti I Historisë [Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Albania, Institute of History], 1998), 225, no. 535; Theocharis Tsampouras, “Τα καλλιτεχνικά εργαστήρια από την περιοχή του Γράμμου κατά το 16ο και 17ο αιώνα: ζωγράφοι από το Λινοτόπι, τη Γράμμοστα, τη Ζέρμα και το Μπουρμπουτσικό” [The Artistic Workshops from Mount Grammos in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century: Painters from the Villages of Linotopi, Grammosta, Zerma and Bourboutsiko] (PhD diss., Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, 2013), 141-142.

[22] Popa, Mbishkrime, 237-238, no. 568.

[23] Ibid., 232-233, no. 556; Tsampouras, “Τα Καλλιτεχνικά εργαστήρια,” 176-179; Constantinos Giakoumis, “Κριτική έκδοση επιγραφών συνεργείων από το Λινοτόπι στις περιφέρειες της ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας της Αλβανίας [Publication of the Linotopi Workshop’s Inscriptions of the Albanian Orthodox Church],” DChAE 21 (2000): 256-257.

[24] Constantinos Stergiopoulos, “Συμβολή εις την μελέτην των ηπειρωτικών τοπωνυμιών” [Contribution to the Study of the Toponyms in Epirus],” Epirotica Chronica 8 (1933): 99-140.

[25] Argyro Karampreridi, “Ζωγράφοι από το Γράμμο στην Ήπειρο του 17ου αιώνα: Στοιχεία από τις επιγραφές των έργων τους” [Painters from Grammos in Epirus in the 17th Century: Evidence from the Inscriptions of Their Works],” in Athanasios Paliouras and Aggeliki Stavropoulou, eds., Μίλτος Γαρίδης (1926-1996) Aφιέρωμα [Miltos Garides (1929-1996) Tribute], Vol. A (Ioannina: University of Ioannina, 2003), 299; Gregory Manopoulos, “Επιγραφικές και άλλες μαρτυρίες για τα Κατσανοχώρια (1587-1699)” [Inscriptions and Other Testimonies about Katsanochoria (1587-1699)],” Epirotica Chronica 35 (2001): 99-196 [henceforth abbreviated as Manopoulos, “Κατσανοχώρια]; Christos Soulis, “Επιγραφαί και Eνθυμήσεις Ηπειρωτικαί” [Inscriptions and Remembrances of Epirus], Epirotica Chronica 9 (1934): 81-126; Tsampouras, “Τα Καλλιτεχνικά εργαστήρια,” 248-250.

[26] Manopoulos, “Κατσανοχώρια,” 99-196.

[27] On the self-administration and autonomy of Zagori in the late eighteenth - early nineteenth centuries, Georgios Papageorgiou, Οικονομικοί και Κοινωνικοί Μηχανισμοί στον ορεινό χώρο. Ζαγόρι (μέσα 18ου -αρχές 20ουαι.) [Economic and Social Mechanisms in the Mountainous Area. Zagori (Mid 18th - Early 20th Century)] (Ioannina, 1995), 189-226.

[28] The “Κοινό” or “Vilayet” of Zagori was established between the years 1681 and 1684, fostering the conditions for self-administration of the entire region. Eventually, western, eastern and central Zagori were consolidated; see Ioannis Lampridis, Ηπειρωτικά Μελετήματα 1887-1890, Ζαγοριακά, Mέρος Α΄και Β΄ [Epirote Studies 1887-1890, Zagoriaca, Part A and B] (Ioannina: Anatiposi Etairias Εpirotikon Meleton, 1971), 43.

[29] The gradual increase in the number of Greek Orthodox merchants helped strengthen their role in the financial life of their homelands. Ikaros Mantouvalos, “Greek Immigrants in Central Europe: A Concise Study of Migration Routes from the Balkans to the Territories of the Hungarian Kingdom (From the Late 17th to the Early 19th Centuries),” in Olga Katsiardi-Hering and Maria A. Stassinopoulou, eds., Across the Danube: Southeastern Europeans and Their Travelling Identities (17th-19th C.) (Leiden - Boston: Brill, 2017), 25-53; Olga Katsiardi-Hering, “Diaspora and Self-Representation: The Case Study of Greek People’s Identity, Fifteenth-Nineteenth Centuries,” in Cinzia Ferrini, ed., The Human Diversity in Context (Trieste: 2020), 248-249; Katerina Kontopanagou, Post-Byzantine Art. The Kapesovite Painters’ Workshop and Saint George Church of Negades (Berlin: ProMosaik LAPH, 2021), 4-5.

[30] For the commercial activity of the Epirote merchants, see Lidia Cotovanu, “Ηπειρώτες έμποροι διαχειριστές των ηγεμονικών εισοδημάτων στη Βλαχία και στη Μολδαβία (15ος-αρχές του 18ου αιώνα)” [Merchants from Epirus Managing Hegemonic incomes in Wallachia and Moldavia (15th - Early 18th Century],” in Anastasia Papadia-Lala et al., eds., Ο Νέος Ελληνισμός: οι κόσμοι του και ο κόσμος. Αφιέρωμα στην Όλγα Κατσιαρδή-Hering [Modern Hellenism: Its Worlds and the World. Tribute to Olga Katsiardes-Hering] (Athens: Evrasia, 2021), 209-226; Eadem, “L’émigration sud-danubienne vers la Valachie et la Moldavie et sa géographie (XVe–XVIIe siècles): la potentialité heuristique d’un sujet peu connu,” Cahiers balkaniques 42 (2014): 2-19; Traian Stoianovich, Ο Κατακτητής ορθόδοξος Βαλκάνιος έμπορος. Η Οικονομική δομή των Βαλκανικών χωρών στα χρόνια της οθωμανικής κυριαρχίας ιε΄ - ιθ΄αι. [The Conqueror Orthodox Balkan Merchant. The Economic Structure of the Balkan Countries in the Years of Ottoman Rule 15th - 19th C.], ed. Spyros Asdrachas (Athens: 1979), 309-330.

[31] Kontopanagou, “Κατά πάντα Απηρτίσθη,” 197.

[32] Eugenia Drakopoulou, “Υπογραφές μεταβυζαντινών ζωγράφων. Ανίχνευση προσωπικών και καλλιτεχνικών μαρτυριών” [Signatures of Post-Byzantine Painters. Detection of Personal and Artistic Testimonies], DChAE 22 (2001): 131; for more about the painters’ signatures in Byzantium see Sophia Kalopissi-Verti, “Painters in Late Byzantine Society. The Evidence of Church Inscriptions,” in Cahiers Archéologiques 42 (1994): 139-158; Eadem “Painters’ Information on Themselves in Late Byzantine Church Inscriptions,” in Michele Bacci, ed., L’artista a Bisanzio e nel mondo cristiano-orientale [Scuola Normale Superiore Pisa, Seminari e Convegni 12] (Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2007), 55-70.

[33] On a site previously occupied by an earlier monument; Kontopanagou, The Kapesovite Painters’ Workshop, 8-10.

[34] It is worth noting that there was a type of unofficial competition among the lords of Zagori, both in charitable activity and in the splendour of their donations. Kontopanagou, The Kapesovite Painters’ Workshop, 4-5.

[35] He achieved the reduction of taxes levied on the region. Konstantinos Varzokas, Αλέξης Νούτσος. O μεγάλος Ηπειρώτης. Η προσφορά της Ηπείρου στον Αγώνα του 1821 [Alexes Noutsos. The great Epirote. The Offer of Epirus in the Struggle of 1821] (Ioannina, 1971), 29.

[36] Regarding the reasons which contributed to the dominance of the basilica architectural type, see Fragisca Kephallonitou-Konstantiou, “Η εισαγωγή κοσμικών στοιχείων στους ναούς των Ιωαννίνων τον 19ο αιώνα” [The Introduction of Secular Elements in the Temples of Ioannina in the 19th Century], in Ήπειρος, Κοινωνία-Οικονομία, 15ος-20οςαι. [Epirus, Society-Economy, 15th - 20th C. Proceedings of the International Congress. September 4-7, 1985] (Ioannina: Municipality of Ioannina, 1987), 299-301; Charalambos Bouras, “Ο αρχιτεκτονικός τύπος της βασιλικής κατά την Τουρκοκρατία και ο Πατριάρχης Καλλίνικος” [The Architectural Type of the Basilica During the Ottoman Occupation and Patriarch Kallinikos], in Εκκλησίες στην Ελλάδα μετά την Άλωση, Churches in Greece 1453-1850 (Athens: National Technical University of Athens, I, 1979), 383-448.

[37] Konstantios, “Χορηγία και Τέχνη,” 411-412.

[38] Ibid.; Kontopanagou and Koutsou, “«ἀναλώμασιν τῶν εὐσεβῶν χριστιανῶν», 75-76.

[39] Kontopanagou, The Kapesovite Painters’ Workshop, 310-312; Dimitrios Konstantios, Προσέγγιση στο έργο των ζωγράφων από το Καπέσοβο της Ηπείρου [Approach to the Work of the Painters from Kapesovo, Epirus] (Athens: Ministry of Culture. Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development, 2001), 47-48.

[40] The ten churches or monasteries decorated by the Kapesovo workshop that were funded by collective sponsorship are (in chronological order): the Church of the Taxiarchs (Chrysorrachi), the narthex of the Monastery of Eleousa (Lake Pamvotis Island, Ioannina), the Church of St Dimitrios (Lias), the Church of St George (Kourenta), the Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin (Chysovitsa), the Church of St Nicholas (Tsepelovo), the Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin (Makrino), the Monastery of the Dormition of the Virgin (Mikrokastro), the Church of St Nicholas (Grammeno), the Church of the Dormition of the Virgin (Aristi).

[41] Varvara Papadopoulou, Μνημεία Ιωαννίνων: Πόλη, Νησί, Λεκανοπέδιο [Monuments of Ioannina: City, Island, Basin] (Ioannina: Ministry of Culture, 2009), 147; Eadem, Τα μοναστήρια του Νησιού των Ιωαννίνων [The Monasteries of the Island, Ioannina] (Ioannina: I. M. Ελεούσης Νήσου, 2004), 77; Kamaroulias, Τα μοναστήρια της Ηπείρου, 270-271; Evaggelos Lekkos, Τα Μοναστρια του Ελληνισμού. Ιστορα-Παρδοση-Τχνη [The Monasteries of Greece. History-Tradition-Art] (Athens: Ixnilatis Publications, 1997), 145; Eugenia Drakopoulou, Ελληνες Ζωγράφοι μετά την ΄Αλωση (1450-1830) [Greek Painters after the Fall of Constantinople (1450-1830)], Vol. 3 (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation NHRF, Section of Neohellenic Research SNR, 2010), 331-332.

[42] Sophia Kalopissi-Verti, “Donors in the Palaiologan Church of the Mani in the Southern Peloponnese: Individualities, Collectivity and Social Identities,” in Anna Zakharova, Olga Ovcharova, and Irina Oretskaia, eds., Art of the Byzantine World: Individuality in Artistic Creativity: A Collection in Honour of Olga Popova (Moscow: State Institute for Art Studies, 2021), 162.

[43] Karydis, “Συλλογικές χορηγίες,” 163-166.

[44] Konstantios, Προσέγγιση στο έργο των ζωγράφων, 30-31.

[45] “Kyr” is the abbreviation of “kyrios” (κύριος). For the use of the abbreviation in similar cases in the Byzantine period, see Kalopissi-Verti, “Collective Patterns,” 128-129.

[46] Varvara Papadopoulou, “Η Ουρανία του ναού του Αγίου Αθανασίου στην Πρέβεζα” [The Heaven of the Church of Agios Athanasios in Preveza], in Athanasios Paliouras and Aggeliki Stavropoulou, eds., Μίλτος Γαρίδης (1926-1996) Aφιέρωμα [Miltos Garides (1926-1996) Tribute], Vol. Β (Ioannina: University of Ioannina, 2003), 527-528.

[47] Katerina Kontopanagou, “Εικονογραφικές παρατηρήσεις στην εντοίχια ζωγραφική του 18ου αιώνα στην περιοχή της Πρέβεζας: ο ναός του Γενεσίου Θεοτόκου στο Θεσπρωτικό” [Iconographic Observations in the Frescoes of the 18th Century in the Area of Preveza: The Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Thesprotiko], in Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium for the History and the Culture of Preveza Region. September 16-20, 2009, Vol. Β (Preveza: Actia Nicopolis Foundation, 2009), 345-346.

[48] Odysseas Mpetsos, Λέλοβα (το σημερινόν Θεσπρωτικόν) και η Κάτω Λάκκα Σούλι [Lelova (The present Thesptotiko) and the Down Lakka Souli Region] (Preveza: 1975), 75-76; Athina Tzakou, “Γενέσιον της Θεοτόκου στο Θεσπρωτικό Πρέβεζας” [The Church of Nativity of the Virgin in  Thesptotiko of Preveza], in Εκκλησίες στην Ελλάδα μετά την Άλωση, Churches in Greece 1453-1850 (Athens: National Technical University of Athens, II, 1982), 116; Manolis Chatzidakis and Eugenia Drakopoulou, ΄Ελληνες Ζωγράφοι μετά την ΄Αλωση (1450-1830) [Greek Painters after the Fall of Constantinople (1450-1830)], Vol. 2 (Athens: National Hellenic Research Foundation NHRF, 1997), 138.

[49] The year is documented in a carved inscription on a stone tablet on the southern exterior side of the church; Konstantios, Προσέγγιση στο έργο των ζωγράφων, 32; Gregory Manopoulos, “Επανεξέταση των επιγραφών των Καπεσοβιτών Ζωγράφων” [Review of the Inscriptions of the Kapesovite Painters], Epirotica Chronica 37 (2003): 307.

[50] Konstantios, Προσέγγιση στο έργο των ζωγράφων, 32-33; Drakopoulou, Ελληνες Ζωγράφοι μετά την ΄Αλωση, 148; Manopoulos, “Επανεξέταση των επιγραφών,” 307; Dimitrios Triantaphyllopoulos, “Βυζαντινά, Μεσαιωνικά και Νεώτερα μνημεία της Ηπείρου” [Byzantine, Medieval and Later Monuments in Epirus], AD 32 (1977): 170-171; Stefanos Mpettes, “Παλαιογραφικά επαρχίας Κουρέντων” [Paleographics of Kourenta Province],Epirotiki Estia 14 (1965): 53.

[51] A similar case of donorship …ΔΙΑ ΑΝΑΛΟΜΑΤΩΝ ΤΗΣ ΑΥΤΗΣ ΕΚΚΛΗΣΙΑΣ… is that of the Church of the Taxiarchs in Kato Pedina. Konstantios, “Χορηγία και Τέχνη,” 410; Ioannis Chouliaras, “Τοιχογραφημένοι ναοί στα ΄Ανω και Κάτω Πεδινά Ζαγορίου 18ος-19οςαι” [Frescoes in Ano and Kato Pedina, Zagori 18th - 19th C.], in Kostas Papagianopoulos and Eleni Simone, eds., Οι ρίζες των Σουδενιωτών [The Roots of the Sudanese] (Lousika Patras: Syllogos Soudenioton Patron kai Perixoron, 2017), 289-308.

[52] Konstantios, Προσέγγιση στο έργο των ζωγράφων, 146; Drakopoulou,΄Ελληνες Ζωγράφοι μετά την ΄Αλωση, 215.

[53] The Church of the Dormition of the Virgin of Chrysovitsa is located in the village of the same name, which belongs to the municipality of Metsovo. It was once a monastery, and is currently the parish and funerary church of the village. Kamaroulias, Τα μοναστήρια της Ηπείρου, 649-655.

[54] Konstantios, Προσέγγιση στο έργο των ζωγράφων, 39-40.

[55] Is located near Chimara. Popa, Mbishkrime, 306, no. 834. Regarding the date of the decoration is attested also the year 1783, see in Alexandra Trifonova, “Άγνωστος κύκλος θαυμάτων του αγίου Σπυρίδωνα στο ναό του Αγίου Σπυρίδωνα (1783) στο Βουνό της Χειμάρας (Αλβανία)” [An Unknown Cycle of St Spyridon’s Miracles in the Church of St Spyridon (1783) in Vuno Near Heimarra (Albania)] (Rencontres culturelles. Le passé et la contemporanéité. Conférence scientifique internationale. 30e anniversaire du Centre de Recherches Slavo-Byzantines “Ivan Dujčev” auprès de l’Université de Sofia “St. Clément d’Ohrid”, Sofia, l’Université de “St Kliment Ohridski,” 2-4 juin 2016), Annuaire de l’Université de Sofia “St Kliment Ohridski” 99 (18), 201: 319-320.

[56] The word “κοινό” (koino) is attested in byzantine co-operative patronage. Kalopissi-Verti, “Donors in the Palaiologan Church of the Mani,” 128.

[57] Soulis, “Επιγραφαί και Eνθυμήσεις,” 106-107; Panagiotis Vocotopoulos, “Aγία Παρασκευὴ του Δράκου” [Saint Paraskevi of the Dragon], DChAE 14 (1987-1988): 49-59; Fotis Petsas and Giannis Saralis, Αρίστη και Δυτικό Ζαγόρι [Ariste and West Zagori] (Athens: 1982), 159-161; Chatzidakis, Έλληνες Ζωγράφοι, 167; Konstantios, Προσέγγιση στο έργο των ζωγράφων, 45.

[58] For the economic and social model of Ottoman society, Sencer Divtçioğlu, “Οικονομικό μοντέλο της Οθωμανικής κοινωνίας (ΙΔ΄και ΙΕ΄αιώνας)” [Economic Model of Ottoman Society (14th - 15th C.)], in Spyros Asdrachas, ed., H οικονομική δομή των βαλκανικών χωρών στα χρόνια της Οθωμανικής κυριαρχίας, ιε'-ιθ' αι. [The Economic Structure of the Balkan Countries During the Years of Ottoman Rule, 15th - 19th C.] (Athens: Melissa, 1979), 117-127.

[59] The soubasis were Ottoman administrative and military officials who headed the timariots of a given administrative subdivision known as a soubasilik. Katerina Kontopanagou, δέξος αναλώμασιν. St. George, Kourenta (Ioannina) 1774. Artwork of the Kapesovite Painters (Athens: Kourenta Fraternity, 2021), 59, 81.

[60] Ioannis Koutzotis was the son of an important local official, as Ioannis’s father held the office of έξαρχος (exarch). The έξαρχος was an ecclesiastical title, conferred upon the clergy and laymen alike, whose duties included custodianship of the patriarchal monasteries and the collection of revenue over a large geographical region. See Kontopanagou, δέξος αναλώμασιν. St. George Kourenta, 75.

[61] The recent conservation of the church frescoes offered an opportunity for comprehensive study. In 2013, the project was included in the operational programme of the Directorate of Conservation of Ancient and Modern Monuments of the Ministry of Culture with the partial funding of the European Regional Development Fund. The completion of restoration works uncovered frescoes painted by the Kapesovite painters Athanasios, Ioannis and Georgios, true gems of eighteenth-century painting, in all their splendour.

[62] For the Kapesovite painters and their workshop, see: Kontopanagou, The Kapesovite PaintersWorkshop, 300-309; Konstantios, Προσέγγιση στο έργο των ζωγράφων, 45-51; Manopoulos, “Επανεξέταση των επιγραφών,” 311-316.

[63] Dimitris Arvanitakis, “The Institution of the Communities: A Form of Communication between Sovereign and Subject and a Mechanism of Constructing Social Memory,” in The Greek World under Ottoman and Western Domination: 15th-19th Centuries (New York: Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation and Benaki Museum, 2006), 21-22.

List of illustrations

Fig. 1. The Monastery of Eleousa on the island in Lake Pamvotis, Ioannina. The donor portraits and the donor inscription. Authors’ archive.

Fig. 2. The Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Thesprotiko, Preveza. The donor inscription. Authors’ archive.

Fig. 3. The Church of the Dormition of the Virgin in Aristi, Zagori region. The donor inscription. Authors’ archive.

Fig. 4. The Church of St George in Kourenta. The donor inscription. Authors’ archive.

Fig. 5. The Church of St George in Kourenta. Main Church. The frescoes. Authors’ archive.

Fig. 6. The Church of St George in Kourenta (2020). Authors’ archive.